The Caribbean Island of the Bahamas
officially the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is an independent, English-speaking country
consisting of 2,387 rocks, 661 cays and 29 islands. It is located in the Atlantic Ocean
southeast of the United States of America; northeast to east of Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican
Republic & Haiti) and north to east of the Caribbean Sea; and west to northwest of the
Turks and Caicos Islands. Its size is almost 14,000 km2 with an estimated population of
330,000. Its capital is Nassau. It remains a Commonwealth realm.
History of the
The seafaring Taino people moved into the uninhabited
southern Bahamas from Hispaniola and Cuba around the 7th century AD. These people came to be known
as the Lucayans. There were an estimated 30,000+ Lucayans at the time of Columbus' arrival in 1492.
Christopher Columbus' first landfall in the New World was on an island named San Salvador (known to
the Lucayans as Guanahani), which is generally accepted to be present-day San Salvador Island,
(also known as Watling's Island) in the southeastern Bahamas. Here, Columbus made first contact
with the Lucayans and exchanged goods with them.
The Spaniards who followed Columbus depopulated the islands, carrying most of the indigenous
people off into slavery. The Lucayans throughout the Bahamas were wiped out by exposure to diseases
for which they had no immunity. The smallpox that ravaged the Taino Indians after Columbus's
arrival wiped out half of the population on what is now the Bahamas.
It is generally assumed that the islands were uninhabited until the mid-17th century. However,
recent research suggests that there may have been attempts to settle the islands by groups from
Spain, France, and Britain, as well as by other Amerindians. In 1648, the Eleutherian Adventurers
migrated from Bermuda. These English puritans established the first permanent European settlement
on an island which they named Eleuthera — the name derives from the Greek word for freedom. They
later settled New Providence, naming it Sayle's Island after one of their leaders. To survive, the
settlers resorted to salvaged goods from wrecks.
Based on the twin pillars of tourism and offshore finance, the Bahamian economy has prospered
since the 1950s. However, there remain significant challenges in areas such as education, health
care, international narcotics trafficking and illegal immigration from Haiti.
The origin of the name "Bahamas" is unclear. It may derive from the Spanish baja mar, meaning
"shallow seas or the Lucayan word for Grand Bahama Island, ba-ha-ma "large upper middle
Map of the Bahamas
The closest island to the
United States is Bimini, which is also known as the gateway to the
Bahamas. The island of Abaco is to the east of Grand Bahama, also known as the "Big Island".
The southeasternmost island is Great Inagua. Other notable islands include the Bahamas'
largest island, Andros Island, and Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island, San Salvador Island,
Acklins, Crooked Island, Exuma and Mayaguana. Nassau, the Bahamas capital city, lies on the
island of New Providence.
All the islands are low and flat, with ridges that usually rise no more than 15 to 20 m (49 to
66 ft). The highest point in the country is Mount Alvernia, formerly called Como Hill, which has an
altitude of 63 metres (210 ft) on Cat Island. To the southeast, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and
three more extensive submarine features called Mouchoir Bank, Silver Bank, and Navidad Bank, are
geographically a continuation of the Bahamas, but not part of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
The climate of the Bahamas is subtropical to tropical, and is moderated significantly by the
waters of the Gulf Stream, particularly in winter. Conversely, this often proves very dangerous in
the summer and autumn, when hurricanes pass near or through the islands. Hurricane Andrew hit the
northern islands during the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season, and Hurricane Floyd hit most of the
islands during the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricane Frances hit in 2004; the Atlantic
hurricane season of 2004 was expected to be the worst ever for the islands. Also in 2004, the
northern Bahamas were hit by a less potent Hurricane Jeanne. In 2005 the northern islands were once
again struck, this time by Hurricane Wilma. In Grand Bahama, tidal surges and high winds destroyed
homes and schools, floated graves and made roughly 1,000 people homeless, most of whom lived on the
west coast of the island.
Culture and Music of the Bahamas
In the less developed outer islands, of Bahamas, handicrafts include basketry made from palm
fronds. This material, commonly called "straw", is plaited into hats and bags that are popular
tourist items. Another use is for so-called "Voodoo dolls," despite the fact that such dolls are
the result of the American imagination and not based on historic fact.
Junkanoo celebration in Nassau Obeah, a religion of folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices
derived from Central African and West African origins, is practiced in some of the Family Islands
(out-islands) of the Bahamas.
Junkanoo is a street parade with music, which occurs in many towns across The Bahamas every
Boxing Day (December 26), New Year's Day and, more recently, in the summer on the island of Grand
Bahama. The largest Junkanoo parade happens in Nassau, the capital. Junkanoo is a Bahamian cultural
expression, which has been derived from Bahamians' ancestry. In theses parades, the locals showcase
a wonderful part of their culture in three forms: Music, Art and Dance.
There is a huge controversy about the origin of Junkanoo, as many historians have offered
explanations for the origins and beginning of this festival. The most accepted one is that the word
“Junkanoo” comes from the name John Canoe, who was an African prince and slave trader operating on
the Gold Coast in the seventeenth (17th) century. He was said to have outwitted the English and
subsequently gained control of Fort Brandenbury. Therefore, the Dutch and English alike feared him.
However, to the slaves, he was a hero and was worshipped and idolized by them. Those slaves who
were brought here to the Bahamas kept up this distinct form of worship.
Some settlements have festivals associated with the traditional crop or food of that area, such
as the "Pineapple Fest" in Gregory Town, Eleuthera or the "Crab Fest" on Andros. Other significant
traditions include story telling.
The Flag Of Bahamas and Coat of
The Flag of the Bahamas has an approximately 1:2 aspect ratio. The black
equilateral triangle on the left represents the unity and determination of the
people of the Bahamas.The triangle is oriented toward three equal-width stripes
symbolizing areas of natural resource; two aquamarine stripes at the top and bottom
of the flag representing the sea and one gold stripe representing the land. The
flag was adopted on July 10, 1973.
The civil ensign is a red ensign with a white cross throughout and the national
flag in the upper-hoist corner; the naval ensign is a white ensign with the same
The Coat Of Arm of
The coat of arms of the Bahamas contains a shield with the
national symbols as its focal point, the shield is supported by a marlin and
On top the shield is a conch shell, that represents the varied marine life of
the island chain. This rests upon a helmet. Below this is the actual shield, the
main symbol of which is a ship, reported to represent the Santa Maria of
Christopher Columbus. It is sailing beneath a sun. The animals supporting the
shield are the national animals, and the national motto is found at the bottom. The
flamingo is located upon land, and the marlin upon sea, indicating the geography of
The vibrant colors of the coat of arms are also intended to point to a bright
future for the islands. They are also reputed to have been maintained due to their
attractiveness to tourist
Things to do in Bahamas
The Bahamas offer some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the world. Every island is rimmed
by coral reefs and crystal clear water. Among the impressive array of coral formations you will
experience a dazzling display of colorful sea life including moray eels, barracudas, stingrays,
turtles, sand tigers, queen triggerfish, parrotfish and angelfish. Warm temperatures make wetsuits
unnecessary. There are popular dive sites off Andros Island, which is bordered by the world's third
largest reef, the Biminis. Here you can dive with dolphins and islanders claim that it provides a
vantage point of the lost city of Atlantis. Elbow Cay, just off Great Abaco, is a great spot from
which to view an amazing array of coral. There is also plenty to offer around New Providence Island
including Balmoral Island off the north coast, Clifton Wall and Razorback to the southwest. Many
companies rent equipment and offer courses and trips for both novice and experienced divers.
There is some excellent fishing in the
Bahamas and people come from all over the world to test their skills out on the wide variety of
fish. The archipelago is most famous for the deep-sea sport fishing - with the right guide you will
find schools of dolphin fish, wahoo, tuna and above all, blue and white marlin. However many
fishermen prefer the challenge of fly and spin casting for bonefish on the sandbanks which surround
many of the islands. They can be caught year-round, though April and May is spawning time and
hence, the most productive months.
There's plenty of excellent sailing to be
done in the Bahamas; the islands offer gorgeous gin-clear waters and a seemingly endless array of
uninhabited cayes inaccessible by any other means. Even around the most popular islands you can
drop anchor at some remote spot and enjoy sunny, silent swimming and snorkeling far from the shore.
The sheltered waters of the Sea of Abaco and Exuma Sound are good for beginners. For the more
competitive, or social, each island holds its own regatta, usually in late summer; the best are to
be found on Exuma, Long Island, Nassau/Paradise Island, and Freeport/Lucaya. Non-sailors can
charter a crewed boat for a few days of quiet and carefree escape.
For those who prefer to keep their feet on
the ground the Bahamas offer some wonderful bird-watching. Most islands shelter a fairly wild
interior where you can find hundreds of different species of birds among the palm savannas and
primeval forest. There are dozens of reserves: Great Inagua is best for bird watching, and at
Inagua National Park you may see the world's largest flock of West Indian flamingo. Others include
Abaco National Park; Man-O-War Cay, off the Abaco Islands; the area around Love Hill on the
north-eastern coast of North Andros; and Armbrister Creek, just north of New Bight on Cat
Bahamas main islands have
excellent facilities for just about every kind of beach and water activity, including parasailing,
water-skiing and windsurfing. The larger resort hotels generally include watersports in their
Cruising in the Bahamas is a popular vacation because there are plenty of facilities for
travelers to benefit from on-board the boat as it travels casually between some of the most popular
spots in the island group. There are various Eastern Caribbean cruises that feature the Bahamas as
a destination, most often docking in Nassau's Prince George Wharf and in Freeport, on Grand Bahamas
Island. While in the Bahamas, passengers will find pristine beaches to laze on, as well as dozens
of things to see and do. The island towns also offer great dining and shopping options for
The islands offer many attractions and activities, featuring everything from Christopher
Columbus' first stop in the New World to Loyalist settlement ruins and the Glass Window Bridge, as
well as the largest underwater cave system known today. The mysterious stone blocks in the waters
off the Bimini Islands are thought to be part of the 'lost city' of Atlantis, an alluring site for
scuba divers, and Long Island boasts the world's deepest 'blue hole'.
A visit to the Pirates of Nassau Museum is a must, while horse-drawn cabs provide guided tours
of colonial Nassau. The Festival Place shopping mall is an outlet for local crafts and food, and
there are various other local markets throughout the Bahamas selling an array of goods. Beautiful
Caribbean weather makes this a year-round destination and, with so much to see and do, cruise
passengers must be careful not to miss the boat...
Married in The Bahamas
Getting Married Application for Wedding License
The couple must be in the Bahamas at the time of application for the marriage license.
Couples may apply a day after their arrival and can be married once they receive their approved
license the day after application.
If either party is single and have never been married before, a declaration certifying this fact
must be sworn before a notary public or other person authorized to administer oaths in the country
This document must accompany the application for the marriage license. This declaration can also
be obtained in the Bahamas from an attorney-at-law or notary public.
If either party has been divorced, the original final decree or a certified copy must be produced.
Where applicable, a translated, certified and notarized copy of the final decree must be
If either party is widowed, the original death certificate, or certified copy, must be produced.
Where applicable, a translated, certified and notarized copy of the death certificate must be
Minors (under 18 years) may be married with both parents' consent. Consent forms for minors are
available at the registrar general's office.
Both parties must produce a valid passport, birth certificate and photo id. The parties must
also produce evidence of the date of their arrival in the Bahamas. The Bahamas immigration card or
entry stamp in your passport will suffice.
A blood test is not required.
The fee for the license is $100; certified copies of a marriage certificate are $20. Marriage
licenses are issued at the office of the registrar general. This office is open to the public
Mondays to Fridays between the hours of 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Hotels, Villas and Resorts in the Bahamas
On The Islands of the Bahamas, every day is exciting. And when you’re ready for a good night’s
sleep, there’s a variety of accommodations to select
from. Compare the best hotels in Nassau, Bahamas.
Discover the perfect place to stay and find what you need to book your perfect trip,
Our source: Over 80% of the information on this page was taken from http://wikitravel.org the other information was gather from knowledge of the islands and news.